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JEREMIAH CHAPTER 36
Jeremiah causeth Baruch to write his prophecy, and publicly to read it, Jeremiah 36:1-24.36.10. The princes send to fetch the roll and read it, Jeremiah 36:11-24.36.18. They advise Baruch and Jeremiah to hide themselves, Jeremiah 36:19. The king Jehoiakim teareth part of the roll, and burneth it, Jeremiah 36:20-24.36.26. Jeremiah denounceth his judgment, Jeremiah 36:27-24.36.31. Baruch writeth a new copy, Jeremiah 36:32.
Jehoiakim was three years a tributary to Nebuchadnezzar, as we read, 2Ki 24:1, then he rebelled; which three years are judged to be the sixth, seventh, and eighth years of his reign, for Pharaoh-nechoh set him up, to whom he was first a tributary, as we read, 2Ki 23:35. Pharaoh-nechoh having conquered him, Jehoiakim became servant to the conqueror three years, then rebelled; upon which the armies of the Chaldeans, with the Syrians, &c., came up against him, and carried him away. This word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the first year that he was tributary to the king of Babylon, which was the fourth year of his reign.
a roll of a book is to be understood parchments, which anciently were their books, the art of binding books being not then known. The precept is for recording all the revelations he had from God for twenty-two years last past; for he began to prophesy in the thirteenth year of Josiah, who reigned one and thirty years, so as he prophesied eighteen years during Josiah’s life, and this was the fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim. God would have them recorded, that there might be a memorial of them, that so the truth of them might appear, when God should bring them to pass, the time of which now drew very near.
What we translate it may be אולי others translate if perhaps, which better expresseth the sense. God knew what would be, but yet he would not be wanting in means by which they might be informed in his will, and so believe the thing, for believing and reforming are here meant by hearing, as the next words in part expound this term here. Forgiveness of sin in Scripture sometimes signifieth the acquitting of a sinner from the obligation sin layeth the sinner under to eternal death, sometimes the remission of a temporal punishment; it may here well be understood as comprehending both, though I think the latter to be what is here principally intended.
We shall find this Baruch, being one of Jeremiah’s disciples, more than once thus employed as Jeremiah’s secretary or amanuensis. None shall need ask how Jeremiah could remember all the prophecies he had prophesied for twenty-two years before past, that considereth who it was that commanded him to do this. God undoubtedly revived the prophet’s memory, or he could not have called all to mind.
We do not read that Jeremiah was a prisoner in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, and therefore it is very uncertainly guessed in what sense he here saith he was shut up. Some think Jehoiakim had imprisoned him, or at least restrained him to his house, though we do not read of it. Others think he restrained himself; but in what sense he was shut up is not certain; that he was so is certain. He knew that God had not commanded his prophecies to be written for any other end, but that the people might have them recalled to their memories: he being not in a capacity himself at present to speak any thing to the people in so public a place, sendeth Baruch to do it in his stead, choosing for it a day of public fast; not the day of the yearly fast mentioned Leviticus 23:27, but on a fast day (of which we shall read more Jeremiah 36:9) proclaimed by Jehoiakim, probably to avert the vengeance hanging over them from the Chaldeans, or rather from the drought. It was, undoubtedly, because of the concourse of people which the prophet knew would that day be in the temple that he chose that day, when some would be present from all parts of Judah.
We had an expression like this Jeremiah 36:3; it teacheth us that the only means to turn away God’s fierce anger ready to fall upon people is prayer and reformation.
This fast was appointed upon a particular emergency, whether it was for a famine which was then in the land, or to avert the ruin which they justly feared from the king of Babylon, who had lately brought them under his servitude, is not certain; the yearly fast, Leviticus 23:27, was to be kept in the seventh month, nor did God ever ordain any fast to be kept in the ninth month.
This verse only attesteth Baruch’s obedience to the command of the prophet Jeremiah, not only as to the thing. his reading it in the temple, but as to the circumstance, in as public a manner as he could,
in the chamber of Gemariah, & c., most likely out of some window, or in some balcony, the people being below, and hearing it.
It is uncertain whether this Michaiah went to make this relation to the princes who sat in the secretary’s chamber, as a piece of news only, or out of a malicious design to accuse the prophet and Baruch for what was done as a seditious practice.
That is, the substance of all the words, for none can imagine that a hearer could remember every word; which shows the vanity of those who overstrain such universal particles to signify every particular word or person.
That is, all the princes that at that time sat there in council sent a messenger with a command to Baruch to appear before them: and to bring the roll which he had read in the ears of the people.
The courage of Baruch is admirable, he was now before the council, in the king’s house, the substance of the prophecies were threatening both to the king and court, and to all the people. The king, as appears by all history, was of no good temper; we read, Jeremiah 26:23, of his sending for Urijah the prophet out of Egypt; when he had fled thither for fear of the king, and slaying him, and we shall find that at that time the princes advised both Jeremiah and Baruch to hide themselves; yet Baruch is not afraid, but reads the prophecy in their ears.
It is hardly to be imagined that all these counsellors should sit still till they had heard all Jeremiah’s prophecies for twenty-two years read, but all signifies many, or the sense and substance of all the prophecies. They were all of them afraid: Jeremiah had now been above twenty years a prophet to this people, and doubtless in great esteem for eighteen years of it, while Josiah was alive, and one whose prophecies they could not but observe had been oft accomplished; therefore they could not but be afraid that they should see these words also fulfilled, and took themselves bound in duty to acquaint the king with them. Some, if not all, of these probably had been great men in Josiah’s time, which was but four or five years before, and from him sucked in some good and religious principles, which begat some awe of God in them.
This now seemed but a reasonable question, considering they were the substance of what he had been prophesying for so many years. The thing seemed strange to the princes, prophets being not used to study and pen their discourses, but to speak them extempore.
This could not but add to the princes’ fear and amazement. They must needs conceive that the thing was done from God, for without a special influence of God it had been a thing impossible that Jeremiah should have called to mind all that he had spoken at several times in so many years; and proceeding from the God of truth, they must needs fear that they would have their certain and just accomplishment in their season.
This speaketh these princes to have been men of a much gentler temper and better disposition than those who succeeded them in Zedekiah’s time; they were not willing that any harm should come to the prophet, nor to Baruch, and knew the fierce temper of Jehoiakim, and therefore advised Baruch that both he and the prophet should hide. themselves.
They were obliged by their office as counsellors to the king to acquaint him with what they heard, which might be prejudicial to him and his nation; and indeed this was the very end why God had commanded the enrolling of these prophecies, that both the king, and princes, and people might take notice of them; but they did not carry the book with them, but laid it up in the secretary’s chamber.
It appeareth by Jeremiah 36:14 that this
Jehudi was a messenger commonly employed by the king and council; him the king sends
to fetch the roll, ( before called a book,) then he employeth him to read it.
The ninth month with them answered part of our November and December, which was a time of the year called for fires.
He, that is, the king, not having patience to hear above three or four columns, or periods, or titles, took the penknife that (it is like) Jehudi had, and cut it in pieces, and burned it in the fire that was before him, not considering that it was the revelation of the will of God, but exalting himself above all that was called God. This showed both the wickedness and passionate temper of this prince, and his high contempt of God and his prophets.
So hardened were this people’s hearts, that though they knew that Jeremiah was a prophet of the Lord, upon the experience now of more than twenty years, and the whole scope of his prophecies had been to denounce the just judgments of God that now were coming upon this people, and they could not but understand that God must be greatly assistant to Jeremiah in writing this roll, all the matter of which he could not otherwise have kept in mind so many years, yet they had no serious fear of God upon their hearts, working upon the hearing the dreadful matter of these prophecies, nor showed any sign of remorse, or sense of their sins, or God’s judgments coming upon them as indications of his wrath.
These three princes seemed to have had a greater dread of God upon their hearts than the rest, for so far as they durst, they interposed, and besought the king not to burn the roll; but he would not hearken to their advice.
The king was not satisfied with burning the roll, but gives order to apprehend both Jeremiah and Baruch, and commandeth the three persons named in this verse to do it; but God by his providence kept them both out of their hands. How the Lord hid them we are not told; the princes (as we read before) advised Baruch that they should both hide themselves. This phrase (probably) imports no more than that God directed them to find such a place of recess as the king’s messengers could by no means find out, nor understand where they were, till the king’s passion was a little over.
It speaketh nothing but the impotency, and passion, and debauchery of human nature, to swell against any revelations of the Divine-will; the counsels of the Lord shall stand, and men only further entangle themselves by struggling in the Lord’s net. Jehoiakim burns one roll, God will have the same thing wrote in another. We learn here both what was the matter of Jeremiah’s prophecy, and the cause of the king’s anger; he had prophesied that the king of Babylon should come, take Jerusalem; and lay the country waste, which, as to Jehoiakim’s part, was fulfilled within six years after this, more fully in eighteen years; but corrupt princes can endure nothing that shall make their lives uneasy.
That is, none that shall be king any considerable time; Jeconiah or Jehoiachin his son was set up, but kept his throne but three months, 2 Kings 24:8-12.24.10. We no where read of the time or manner of this king’s death, but that he had an ignominious burial, Jeremiah 22:19, like the burial of an ass, none accompanying his corpse, none mourning for him; and it appears from this text, that wherever he died, his body lay for a time unburied.
As to the people, God threateneth they should feel, what they were not willing to hear, even all the evil which God by his prophet had pronounced against them.
Wicked men get nothing by opposing themselves to the revealed will of God, how ungrateful soever it be to them, but the addition of guilt of their souls, and the increase of Divine wrath; God’s counsels shall stand, and what he speaks shall most certainly be accomplished. Here is another roll, written with additional threatenings, confirmative of what God had before-said.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Jeremiah 36". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
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